7 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid with Your Certification Course
You’re ready to sell your certification course. But are you about to fall into a marketing trap?
The first sales of your certification program are often the most exciting. After all your hard work developing the course, you're finally in a position to see it gain some attention.
As such, you're probably as excited as you will ever be about marketing your certification course. But that enthusiasm can easily lead you down the wrong path.
There's a lot of bad advice on the Internet, and that can lead even the most well-intentioned marketer can make mistakes if they're behind the times. To help you avoid the common pitfalls, here's a look at the top marketing mistakes many online educators make when they first go to sell their online course.
1. They overthink strategy.
Most of us understand that having a marketing strategy is a key part of growing a business. However, for some of us, the fear of making a misstep is so high that we spend all our time re-thinking strategy without ever moving forward with our marketing plan.
However, if you want to make the best strategy, you need data. It's better to launch an imperfect marketing plan that you can refine later once you know more, than to keep working on theoretical ideal that may fall apart the moment it's put to use.
2. They don’t have any strategy.
I'm not sure which is the bigger marketing mistake: getting so hung up on strategic details that you never start, or being so impatient to share your message that you plunge ahead without strategy. While it's certainly possible to get overwhelmed by strategy, moving forward without one is also a mistake.
Establish your marketing goals. Then, before you decide to invest all your resources into a new marketing initiative, make sure it will further those goals. Also, take the time to prioritize different marketing plans. Then, make sure you have the basics down before you start something further down the road.
3. All product, no substance.
How much can your visitors read about your certification program before they make a decision? Does your website go into any detail about the course curriculum, or is it relatively shallow when it comes to product information?
Not so long ago, most people assumed that online attention spans were too short for lots of copy. But as it turns out, long posts are incredibly popular—so long as they're well-written.
Take the time to write detailed product pages, but also design them with headers and images so that they don't feel like long blocks of unbroken copy. And if you have more ideas and tangents than will coherently fit on you product page, save them as topics for your blog.
4. Forgetting your audience.
Far too many businesses get wrapped up in the messaging that they want to share that they forget what's important to their audience. Yes, you may have had a really awesome course that you can't wait to share with the world. But the things you find exciting about the course may be completely irrelevant to your audience.
If you can, ask some of your current and former learners if you can interview them in order to improve your program. Ask them about how they heard about you, what convinced them to take the program, and how it's benefitted them. Learn about their needs, fears, and interests, and then target those in your marketing.
You can do this by email (send them a survey form), but these are often discarded. What's even better is if you can talk to them for fifteen minutes on the phone. Many of your learners w
ill be happy to help, and they may even be interested in talking with you after having taking your course.
5. Buying your way to the top.
There are a lot of shady websites out there offering to help you rank #1 on Google (or some other improbable scheme), for the right price. But the truth of almost all online marketing is that you must put in genuine effort if you want to succeed.
Buying links, likes, or followers won't get you anywhere near your goals, but they could get you blacklisted from Google. Don't take short cuts: you won't fool Google—or your audience.
6. Not asking permission.
There are certain privacy lines you can't cross in online marketing—or, if you do, you're setting yourself up for penalties. Some of these lines include things like adding someone's email address to a mailing list without their consent, or making it difficult to unsubscribe when they're ready to leave.
While these regulations may never be relevant for you, it is nonetheless important to remember where your visitors are coming from, and what expectations they may have about online privacy. The visitors who want to hear from you are always going to be more valuable than those you've tricked into receiving your marketing materials.
7. You’re invisible.
One of the biggest challenges online is ranking well enough in search engines for queries related to your course content. This is what SEO is all about.
If you know anything about marketing, you've probably heard about SEO in the past few years. However, you may be less clear on what SEO is.
Simply put, it's a strategy you can employ to help make your site more visible in search results. While SEO is a complex topic, the most important concepts are easy to grasp. In fact, we've written about them before on the LearnDash blog. If you're interested in learning more, check it out—and maybe even consider taking a course!
The worst marketing mistakes are perfectly avoidable.
As intimidating as some of these may seem, they're all easy to avoid with patience and enough foresight. The biggest challenge is simply avoiding the temptation to cut corners.
It's easy to lose yourself chasing the latest, greatest marketing idea if you don't have strategy in mind. And if you have money on hand, the temptation to throw it at all your problems can make it harder to take a step back and find the most efficient solution.
Instead, avoid any solution that promises big returns for zero effort (especially if they're asking for money), and focus you attention on providing your customers with the best materials you can provide.
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